Comms strategies are not Ikea furniture. Although life would be much easier if they were. I mean, it would be awesome to tear open your pre-ordered box, dig out the instructions, grab your screwdriver, and one lazy Sunday afternoon later – a fully-functioning comms strategy now sits in your guest bedroom.
In reality, comms strategies are more like archaeological digs. Instead of a little screwdriver, you work methodically with specialized tools to outline the general shape of the beast you’re attempting to unearth. You won’t know its final form until you’ve connected every item of worth into the shape that makes the most sense.
Sometimes, you might have a box full of ribs before you realize you need a spine. For comms professionals who operate in a complex world of online ads, social platforms, websites and press releases, comms strategies are the foundation that brings structured order to the multi-channeled chaos that is modern comms. And if your company plans on stable long-term growth, your comms are going to need that support.
If you don’t have a comms strategy in place, here are 3 reasons why you should.
1 – Your comms activities will support your business objectives
Different comms channels will have different performance goals during different phases of your company’s development. Ads may be structured to raise brand awareness one year, promote new product lines the next. Your website may evolve from a lead magnet to an online resource archive as your customer base matures.
The growth phase can be a dangerous time for comms professionals, where the tendency is to become reactive and only focus on your own tasks. The work gets done, but the synergies between activities can slip. A big-picture view of all the moving parts is essential if you want your comms to keep delivering value.
An overall comms goal aligned with short-term and long-term business objectives gives each member of your team clear landmarks to follow when planning their own activities. The result will be individually-set sub-goals that compound the value they deliver to your overall objectives.
2 – Your messages will stay aligned across all channels
Growth means new hires, bigger budgets, more channels, extra content. Overall comms objectives will support your team members during this stage by giving them a high-level target to aim at. Alone, however, they aren’t enough to keep your comms on the straight-and-narrow.
The challenge is to communicate with the personality, format, and purpose that works best on each channel while making sure your comms still form a cohesive whole. Essentially, you want each team member and channel to have its own character, but to also stick to the company message. Tricky.
This is where your comms strategy shines. If your comms objective is the landmark your team aims for, your key comms assets are the navigation tools your team can use to journey towards it. Your company purpose, values, audiences and objectives, story, mission, vision, and tone of voice are some of the essential reference tools any team member can use to keep on message.
3 – Your company’s identity will be strengthened – both externally and internally
Most people think of comms as an outward-facing activity (to all the internal comms professionals reading this, I apologize!) Your company might have separate leads in charge of external and internal comms, both roles might be handled by one capable individual, or internal comms duties may be shared around senior management. In all cases, structure is needed to ensure the right things are said to the right people.
Companies that communicate in a unified way both externally and internally are indicative of strong culture and shared values. Companies that don’t feel confusing and fractured. This is especially true for the new hires that read all the cool stuff on the web and then learn their company has a completely different personality.
Purpose, values, mission, vision, and tone of voice sit at the core of both internal and external comms. They are not marketing slogans, they are what your company truly believes. They show employees present and future the greater purpose of the work done, and help them decide if this is the right home. They also build deeper connections with customers empathizing with the causes they believe in. In short, they give your company a singular voice.
Comms strategies are the framework that ensure your activities support your business as it grows. They are the DNA that keeps your messaging authentic as the scope of your operations organically shifts. Above all, they clarify thinking by reminding comms professionals of the core purpose behind the work they do.
We’ve worked with over 300 different Finnish growth companies over the past 14 years to help them tell purpose-driven stories to the world. To find out more about how we can help yours, click below.
The writer is San Francisco Agency’s Communications Director John Cozzi, or more commonly known as Cozzilla/Don Cozzi. Cozzilla’s expertise includes meaningful story-telling and formerly getting up after being smashed into the turf on the rugby field.